Today we have Naomi Clark visiting with her latest release! Please welcome her to my site and check out this hot, new read, and her answers to my questions!
Hi, Naomi! Tell us a little about your current release.
The seeds of the idea for this story came when my fiancé was working away from home a lot last autumn. Left to my own devices, I watched tons of documentaries like Monster Quest and Destination Truth – junky, but loads of fun! Since I’m already a huge fan of folklore and mythology, it felt natural to take the modern monster hunt theme of those shows and meld them with my own ideas about cryptozoology and how it might look in the real (well, fictional, I suppose) world.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
My next release will be a full-length urban fantasy novel called UNDERTOW, coming 25th August from Ragnarok Publications. It’s got demons, dogs, private eyes, and creepy seaside towns – what more can you possibly want?
What are your writing goals for this year?
I’m aiming to get at least one more short story written and published, although I have several in process so I really need to narrow down my choices and focus! I also have three more novels in various stages of completion – a sequel to UNDERTOW, a new book in my Urban Wolf series, and a completely new work. It would be nice to get at least one of those finished before the end of the year!
How do you come up with ideas?
Ideas come from everywhere! I find the real problem is sorting out the good ideas from the rubbish ones. I take a lot of inspiration from myth and legend, as well as art and the occasional dream that sticks with me.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love making up new worlds! And I absolutely love sharing them with other people.
Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
The hero…well, anti-hero…of UNDERTOW, Ethan Banning is my favourite. He’s really nobody’s idea of Prince Charming, but he does have a kind of coarse charm all the same. And he’s great fun to write as he’s always getting into trouble.
What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
My fiancé is an amazing cook and makes great stews. I always look forward to winter because that’s when he’s in the mood to cook stews, and he gets really inventive with ingredients. His goat stew was particularly memorable!
What are you reading right now?
I’m making my way through the A Song of Ice and Fire series –trying to stay ahead of the TV show!
Can you tell us three of your favorite things?
How about an excerpt?
A couple of hours later, showered, changed, and feeling human again, Emma headed back to Abigail's Bakes. She told herself she was just looking to grab a quick lunch and sit somewhere pleasant while she updated her blog. Privately she had to admit it would be nice to just look at Abi while she worked.
The place was much busier than it had been that morning; it was full of kids and families jostling for table space. Abi and a younger girl worked the counter with cheer and ease, and cafe was filled with chatter and laughter. Emma joined the queue, trying to catch Abi's eye. When Abi saw her, she waved and favored Emma with that infectious smile.
“How was your hike? Did you catch the Beast yet?” she asked Emma as she served her.
“Not yet. Maybe later.” Emma picked out a bacon and cheese strudel and a spiced apple muffin. “Do you have wifi in here? I need to get online.”
Abi passed her a slip of paper with a password on it along with her food. “Help yourself. Catch you later.”
Emma smiled, hoping the words weren't just a mere formality. She found a table tucked away in the corner and flipped open her netbook. Her main source of income was her photography, supplying stock images for websites and brochures, entering as many competitions as she could, and doing the occasional teaching course if she wasn't traveling. It was steady money, and a hefty inheritance from a grandparent she'd never met allowed her to live in comfort and indulge her other passion – the alien big cat stories. Her blog, After Dark All Cats Are Leopards, was one of the better-regarded in both the cryptid and sceptic communities and she had a steady following. When she'd announced last week that she was heading for Birch Hill, her views had skyrocketed, and even though she didn't have much news to add yet, it was probably a good idea to update now.
She plugged her digital camera into the netbook and uploaded the photos she'd taken, eating as she worked. The strudel and the muffin were both perfectly delicious, and she allowed herself a brief fantasy of kidnapping Abi and making her bake for her full-time.
She didn't notice Abi had joined her until the other woman pushed a cup of coffee to her. “Looks like thirsty work,” Abi remarked.
Emma jumped, then grinned. “Bloggers are powered entirely by caffeine. Thanks.”
“So I looked you up after you left,” Abi said. “Why big cats?” She leaned her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands. Her dark curls framed her face perfectly, her expression attentive and interested. Emma squirmed a little under her keen gaze.
“When I was a kid I wanted to find Bigfoot,” Emma confessed. “My dad used to take me out hiking in the Rocky Mountains and tell me stories about Bigfoot and skinwalkers, all kinds of stuff. I just loved it. Then I grew up and decided there wasn't much chance of Bigfoot really being out there. But big cats? Definitely.”
“You're so sure? Even though nobody's found a breeding population of wild tigers anywhere?” Abi asked with a grin.
“America's a big country. There's plenty of space for wide-roaming animals to hide. And big cats are generally elusive in their natural territories anyway. Yeah, I'm sure. People brought lions and tigers over here with circuses in the nineteenth century and there are thousands of people keeping them illegally today. There are orphanages for abandoned exotic animals up and down the country. It's not completely ridiculous that some escape or are released into the wild. And cats are so adaptable. Even if we're not talking big breeding populations, I think it's more likely that there are non-native big cats out there than not.”
“You love this stuff, don't you?” Abi said, looking thoughtful.
Emma flushed. “Was I rambling?”
“No, it's interesting! I wish I could come out big cat hunting with you, but Jed probably wouldn't let me.” She stuck her tongue out as if she'd eaten something distasteful.
“Well, he's not coming either,” Emma said. “I take it he's more than just prickly with you?”
Abi shuffled Emma's empty plates around, looking embarrassed. “Oh, we just...clash. He's pretty conservative and I'm not. He thinks I lower the tone of the neighborhood.”
“Not a fan of baked goods?” Emma joked.
“Baked goods or lesbians,” Abi said with a shrug.
Emma's heart gave a little twist, but she kept her tone calm and amused as she replied. “Oh dear. I'd better not answer any personal questions he asks me then.”
Abi gave her a thoughtful look again that turned into a shy smile. “So what are you doing for the rest of the day? I'm off this afternoon.”
“I'm going back into the woods this evening but I'm free til then. Maybe...” Emma searched for something that didn't sound too forward but still made it plain she liked Abi. “Maybe we could hang out?” Ugh. Lame.
Abi didn't seem to notice. She flashed a dazzling smile. “How about a guided tour of Birch Hill? There's not much to see, but with the right company it has a certain charm.”
“It's a date.”
Abi stood, grabbing Emma's plates. “Give me an hour and we're on.”
Emma watched her sashay away with a flutter of excitement. If the Beast of Birch Hill didn't show up, Abi might prove just as exciting.